““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Searching for something special to give family, friends or business associates this holiday season? Business Jet Traveler has rounded up gift ideas for everyone on your list, from the gadget junkie to the chocoholic to the luxury hound.
Tee time: Japan-based Miura Golf, which introduces new clubs only every two or three years, has just released its Passing Point 9003 Forged Cavity Back Irons. The clubs are made to aid players who are segueing from casual golfers to committed competitors by positioning the center of gravity low, creating a wide sole and integrating weight and balance.
Starting at $225 per iron. Info: miuragolf.com/passingpoint-PP9003.asp
Cocoa wanderlust: You can travel the world without flying. At least, that's the concept behind Vosges' exotic chocolate-truffle collection. Each purple gift box is lined with 16 delicate, brown orbs, all promising your taste buds a far-flung adventure. An enclosed booklet leads the tour, with flavors from Nagaland (vibrant with curry) to China (redolent of star anise).
$40. Info: www.vosgeschocolate.com
April in Paris, with a twist: In spring, Paris is home to one of the oldest established funfairs in Europe, La Foire du Trône. Treat someone to this 1,000-year-old national tradition, then keep the historic, whimsical theme going and spend the night at one of the oldest, most palatial hotels in Paris: Le Meurice. The grande dame of 18th century style turns tradition on its ear with ultramodern, Salvador Dali-inspired accents slyly mixed among Sotheby's antiques. (Dali was a regular at the hotel.) The 3,000-square-foot Belle Etoile Royal Suite, a favorite with international celebrities, sits atop the hotel and features a private terrace with 360-degree views of the City of Light.
$22,000 per night. Info: www.foiredutrone.com, www.lemeurice.com
Smooth ride: Avid cyclists know a good frame makes all the difference. The Serotta Ottrott SE is handcrafted of carbon fiber and titanium and is fully customized to each rider's physique and style. The bike is known for its ability to comply with all types of riding conditions and for consistently delivering a frictionless ride, whether it's a steep climb or a rough-road surface.
Starting at $8,600. Info: www.serotta.com
Grape pleasure: Have an oenophile on your shopping list? Give the gift of grapes. Wine Grape Bonsais are 12-year-old specimens from the California wine country. The deciduous plants produce tiny, edible grapes that hang in clusters from the branches. Bonsais do best on a patio, but will also flourish in any indoor, sunny spot.
About $75. Info: www.organicbouquet.com
Straight off the cuff: Business travelers love dual functionality. Enter the 4GB USB Flash Drive Cufflinks. The sterling-silver, sphere-like design slides open to release a hidden flash drive (2 GB per cufflink). The pair is available in gunmetal, antique silver and gold-woven finishes.
$225 per pair. Info: www.cufflinks.com
Picture this: Looking for a way to instantly print pictures from your iPhone? The compact Photo Cube Printer processes four-by-six-inch pictures, without a computer, in under a minute. The printer is controlled through your iPhone via a free, downloadable app. The three-pound base–about the size of a tissue box–has an embedded paper cartridge that produces 300-dpi images without ink.
About $160. Info: www.sharperimage.com
Luxe luggage: Netherlands-based Henk turns out suitcases that put the consumer in the design seat. The handmade "Travelfriend" bag, constructed of 500 parts–including the same carbon-fibre composite used on Formula One race cars–can be customized inside and out. Choose from a variety of calfskin leather colors and patterns and ebony or sterling-silver buttons. Henk suitcases are designed for business travelers and carry a lifetime warranty. The lightweight bags feature retractable wheels, a central locking system, an anti-theft chain, a leather insert for laptops and a pullout handle.
About $28,000. Info: www.henk.com
Long-range plan: Have someone on your list whose thirst for adventure knows no bounds? The Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour navigation device works where most cell phone signals drop out. The high-functioning GPS–a Field & Stream favorite–has a digital compass and lists latitude and longitude coordinates, temperature and altitude. It also stores and pinpoints up to five locations by retracing steps and automatically tracking routes and mileage.
$119. Info: www.bushnell.com
Dust off the White Album: If you have a vinyl collector on your gift list, the top-of-the-line Oracle Delphi MK VI turntable could be the ticket. Among its many advantages, the unit features a bearing assembly with six precision screws for high rotational accuracy, a suspension system with tripedal mounting that eliminates room vibrations and an optional SME tonearm that produces detailed, transparent sound.
Starting at $7,770. Info: www.oracle-audio.com
Bling, bling: Your iPhone may have all the bells and whistles, but what about 500 flawless diamonds? London-based luxury-goods designer Stuart Hughes, known for over-the-top creations such as solid-gold iPads, has unveiled the iPhone 4 Diamond Rose. The cell phone features a 7.4-carat pink diamond inside the navigation button, a bezel crafted of platinum, rose gold and hundreds of smaller diamonds totaling more than 100 carats, and a 53-diamond Apple logo. Wondering where to keep it? No worries. The iPhone comes packaged in an imperial-pink granite chest with leather lining.
$8 million. Info: www.stuarthughes.com